Ashanti people

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Akan, Fante people, Coromantees

Ashanti ( /ˈæʃɑːnˈt/ ( Loudspeaker.svg listen )), also known as Asante, are an ethnic group native to the Ashanti Region of modern-day Ghana. The Asante speak Twi. The language is spoken by over nine million ethnic Asante people as a first or second language. [1] [2] Asante is often assumed to mean "because of wars". [3]

Ethnic group Socially defined category of people who identify with each other

An ethnic group, or an ethnicity, is a category of people who identify with each other based on similarities such as common ancestry, language, history, society, culture or nation. Ethnicity is usually an inherited status based on the society in which one lives. Membership of an ethnic group tends to be defined by a shared cultural heritage, ancestry, origin myth, history, homeland, language or dialect, symbolic systems such as religion, mythology and ritual, cuisine, dressing style, art or physical appearance.

Ashanti Region Region in Ghana

The Ashanti Region is located in south Ghana and is third largest of 16 administrative regions, occupying a total land surface of 24,389 km2 (9,417 sq mi) or 10.2 per cent of the total land area of Ghana. In terms of population, however, it is the most populated region with a population of 4,780,380 according to the 2011 census, accounting for 19.4% of Ghana's total population. The Ashanti Region is known for its major gold bar and cocoa production. The largest city and regional capital is Kumasi.

Ghana Republic in West Africa

Ghana, officially the Republic of Ghana, is a country located along the Gulf of Guinea and Atlantic Ocean, in the subregion of West Africa. Spanning a land mass of 238,535 km2 (92,099 sq mi), Ghana is bordered by the Ivory Coast in the west, Burkina Faso in the north, Togo in the east and the Gulf of Guinea and Atlantic Ocean in the south. Ghana means "Warrior King" in the Soninke language.


The wealthy gold-rich Asante people developed the large and influential Asante Empire, along the Lake Volta and Gulf of Guinea. [4] The empire was founded in 1670, and the Asante capital Kumase was founded in 1680 the late 17th century by Asantehene (emperor) Osei Kofi Tutu I on the advice of Ɔkͻmfoͻ Anͻkye, his premier. [4] Sited at the crossroads of the Trans-Saharan trade routes, the Kumase megacity's strategic location contributed significantly to its growing wealth. [5] Over the duration of the Kumasi metropolis' existence, a number of peculiar factors have combined to transform the Kumase metropolis into a fitting financial centre and political capital. [5] The main causal factors included the unquestioning loyalty to the List of rulers of Asante monarchy and the Kumase metropolis' growing wealth, derived in part from the capital's lucrative domestic-trade in items such as bullion. [5]

Gold Chemical element with atomic number 79

Gold is a chemical element with symbol Au and atomic number 79, making it one of the higher atomic number elements that occur naturally. In its purest form, it is a bright, slightly reddish yellow, dense, soft, malleable, and ductile metal. Chemically, gold is a transition metal and a group 11 element. It is one of the least reactive chemical elements and is solid under standard conditions. Gold often occurs in free elemental (native) form, as nuggets or grains, in rocks, in veins, and in alluvial deposits. It occurs in a solid solution series with the native element silver and also naturally alloyed with copper and palladium. Less commonly, it occurs in minerals as gold compounds, often with tellurium.

Lake Volta largest reservoir by surface area in the world located in Ghana

Lake Volta, the largest artificial reservoir in the world in terms of surface area, is contained behind the Akosombo Dam. It is completely within the country of Ghana and has a surface area of 8,502 square kilometres (3,283 sq mi). Stretching from Akosombo in the south to the northern part of the country, it is one of the largest man-made reservoirs in the world.

Gulf of Guinea The northeasternmost part of the tropical Atlantic Ocean between Cape Lopez in Gabon, north and west to Cape Palmas in Liberia

The Gulf of Guinea is the northeasternmost part of the tropical Atlantic Ocean between Cape Lopez in Gabon, north and west to Cape Palmas in Liberia. The intersection of the Equator and Prime Meridian is in the gulf.


In the Asante Twi dialect, Asantefo ( /ˈæsɑːnˈtɪf/ ASS-ahn-TIF-oh); singular masculine: Asantenibarima, singular feminine: Asantenibaa.

Ashanti, Asante, or Asante Twi, is spoken by over 2.8 million Ashanti people. Ashanti is one of three literary dialects of the Akan language of West Africa, and the prestige dialect of that language. It is spoken in and around Kumasi, the capital of the Ashanti Region of Ghana.

The name Asante "warlike" derives from the 1670s as the Asante went from being a tributary state to a centralized hierarchical kingdom. [4] [6] Asantehene Osei Tutu I, military leader and head of the adwinehene clan, founded the Asante Empire. [4] [6] Osei Tutu I obtained the support of other clan chiefs and, using Kumasi as the central base, subdued surrounding Akan states. [4] [6] Osei Tutu challenged and eventually defeated Denkyira in 1701, [4] [6] and this is the alleged modern origin of the name. [4]

Tributary state type of state hierarchy or type of state subordination to a more powerful state

A tributary state is a term for a pre-modern state in a particular type of subordinate relationship to a more powerful state which involved the sending of a regular token of submission, or tribute, to the superior power. This token often took the form of a substantial transfer of wealth, such as the delivery of gold, produce or slaves, so that tribute might best be seen as the payment of protection money. Or it might be more symbolic: sometimes it amounted to no more than the delivery of a mark of submission such as the bunga mas that rulers in the Malay peninsula used to send to the kings of Siam, or the Tribute of the Maltese Falcon that the Grand Master of the Order of St. John used to send annually to the Viceroy of Sicily in order to rule Malta. It might also involve attendance by the subordinate ruler at the court of the hegemon in order to make a public show of submission.

The Akan are a meta-ethnicity predominantly speaking Central Tano languages and residing in the southern regions of the former Gold Coast region in what is today the nation of Ghana. Akans who historically migrated from Ghana also make up a plurality of the populace in the Ivory Coast. The Akan language is a group of dialects within the Central Tano branch of the Potou–Tano subfamily of the Niger–Congo family.

Denkyira ethnic group

Denkyira was a powerful nation of Akan people that existed on peninsula Ashantiland from 1620. Like all Akans they originated from Bono state. Before 1620 Denkyira was called Agona. The ruler of the Denkyira was called Denkyirahene and the capital was Jukwaa. The first Denkyirahene was Mumunumfi.


The homeland Ashanti has a variable terrain, coasts and mountains, wildlife sanctuary and strict nature reserve and national parks, forests and grasslands, [7] lush agricultural areas, [8] and near savannas, [7] enriched with vast deposits of industrial minerals, [8] most notably vast deposits of gold. [9]

Homeland concept of the place with which an ethnic group holds a long history and a deep cultural association

A homeland is the concept of the place where a: cultural, national, or racial identity had formed. The definition can also mean simply one's country of birth. When used as a proper noun, the Homeland, as well as its equivalents in other languages, often have ethnic nationalist connotations. A homeland may also be referred to as a fatherland, a motherland, or a mother country, depending on the culture and language of the nationality in question.

Mountain A large landform that rises fairly steeply above the surrounding land over a limited area

A mountain is a large landform that rises above the surrounding land in a limited area, usually in the form of a peak. A mountain is generally steeper than a hill. Mountains are formed through tectonic forces or volcanism. These forces can locally raise the surface of the earth. Mountains erode slowly through the action of rivers, weather conditions, and glaciers. A few mountains are isolated summits, but most occur in huge mountain ranges.

Strict nature reserve highest category of protected area recognised by the WCPA

A strict nature reserve or wilderness area is the highest category of protected area recognised by the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), a body which is part of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). These category I areas are the most stringently protected natural landscapes.

The territory Ashanti people settled Ashanti region (Kingdom of Ashanti), is home to a Crater Lake the Lake Bosumtwi and Ashanti is bordered westerly to Lake Volta within the central part of present-day Ghana. [10] The Ashanti (Kingdom of Ashanti) territory is densely forested, mostly fertile and to some extent mountainous. [10] There are two seasons—the rainy season (April to November) and the dry season (December to March). [10] The land has several streams; the dry season, however is extremely desiccated. [10] Asante region is hot year round. [10]

Crater lake Lake formed within a (usually volcanic) crater

A crater lake is a lake that forms in a volcanic crater or caldera, such as a maar; less commonly and with lower association to the term a lake may form in an impact crater caused by a meteorite, or in the crater left by an artificial explosion caused by humans. Sometimes lakes which form inside calderas are called caldera lakes, but often this distinction is not made. Crater lakes covering active (fumarolic) volcanic vents are sometimes known as volcanic lakes, and the water within them is often acidic, saturated with volcanic gases, and cloudy with a strong greenish color. For example, the crater lake of Kawah Ijen in Indonesia has a pH of under 0.5. Lakes located in dormant or extinct volcanoes tend to have fresh water, and the water clarity in such lakes can be exceptional due to the lack of inflowing streams and sediment.

Lake Bosumtwi crater lake

Lake Bosumtwi is the only natural lake in Ghana. It is situated within an ancient impact crater that is about 10.5 kilometres (6.5 mi) in diameter. It is about 30 km (19 mi) south-east of Kumasi the capital of Ashanti and is a popular recreational area. There are about 30 villages near crater lake Lake Bosumtwi, with a combined population of about 70,000 Ashanti people.

The dry season is a yearly period of low rainfall, especially in the tropics. The weather in the tropics is dominated by the tropical rain belt, which moves from the northern to the southern tropics and back over the course of the year. The tropical rain belt lies in the southern hemisphere roughly from October to March; during that time the northern tropics have a dry season with sparser precipitation, and days are typically sunny throughout. From April to September, the rain belt lies in the northern hemisphere, and the southern tropics have their dry season. Under the Köppen climate classification, for tropical climates, a dry season month is defined as a month when average precipitation is below 60 millimetres (2.4 in).

Today Ashanti people number close to 3 million. Most speak the Ashanti language (indistinguishably also referred to as Asante Twi, a member of the Central Tano languages within the Kwa languages). [1] [11] Ashanti political power combines Ashanti King Asantehene Asantehene Osei Tutu II as the absolute ruler and political head of the Ashantis and Ashantis homeland Ashanti, [12] [13] with Ashanti semi-one-party state representative NPP, [14] and since Ashanti (and the Kingdom of Ashanti) state political union with Ghana, [15] the Ashanti remain largely influential. [16]

Ashantis reside in Ashanti and Brong Ahafo Regions in Ghana. [16] Kumasi metropolis, the capital of Ashanti (Kingdom of Ashanti), has also been the historic capital of the Ashanti Kingdom. [16] Ashanti region currently has a population of 11 million (11,000,000).

Today, as in the past Ashanti continues to make significant contributions to Ghana's economy. [17] Ashanti is richly endowed with industrial minerals and agricultural implements, Ashanti is responsible for much of Ghana's domestic food production and for the foreign exchange Ghana earns from cocoa, agricultural implements, gold, bauxite, manganese, various other industrial minerals, and timber. [17] Kumasi metropolis and Ashanti region produces 96% of Ghana's exports. [8] [9]


Ashanti Empire

In the 1670s the Ashanti went from being a tributary state to a centralized hierarchical kingdom. Ashanti king Asantehene Osei Tutu I, military leader and head of the Oyoko clan, founded the Ashanti kingdom. [4] [6] Osei Tutu obtained the support of other clan chiefs and using Kumasi as the central base, subdued surrounding states. [6] Osei Tutu challenged and eventually defeated Denkyira in 1701, [4] [6] and presumptuously from this, the name Asante came to be. [4] [6]

Realizing the weakness of a loose confederation of Akan states, Osei Tutu strengthened centralization of the surrounding Akan groups and expanded the powers judiciary system within the centralized government. [18] Thus, this loose confederation of small city-states grew into a kingdom or empire looking to expand its land. [18] Newly conquered areas had the option of joining the empire or becoming tributary states. [18] Opoku Ware I, Osei Tutu's successor, extended the borders. [19]

Sovereignty and independence

Ashanti yam ceremony, 19th century by Thomas E. Bowdich Ashanti Yam Ceremony 1817.jpg
Ashanti yam ceremony, 19th century by Thomas E. Bowdich

The Ashanti state strongly resisted attempts by Europeans, mainly the British, to conquer them. [20] The Ashanti limited British influence in the Ashanti region, [20] as Britain annexed neighbouring areas. [20] The Ashanti were described as a fierce organized people whose king "can bring 200,000 men into the field and whose warriors are evidently not cowed by Sniper rifles and 7-pounder guns". [20]

Ashanti was one of the few African states that seriously resisted European colonizers. [20] Between 1823 and 1896, Britain fought four wars against the Ashanti kings (the Anglo-Ashanti Wars). [20] In 1901, the British finally defeated the kingdom following the 1900 War of the Golden Stool and Ashanti Confederacy was made a British protectorate Ashanti Protectorate in 1902, and the office of Asantehene was discontinued with the Ashanti capital Kumasi annexed into the British empire; however, the Ashanti still largely governed themselves. [21] [22] Ashanti gave little to no deference to colonial authorities. [21] [22] In 1926, the British permitted the repatriation of Ashanti King Asantehene Prempeh I – whom they had exiled to the Seychelles in 1896 [21] [22] – and allowed him to adopt the title Kumasehene, but not Ashanti Asantehene (the Title of the Ashanti King). However, in 1935, the British finally granted the Ashanti self-rule sovereignty as Ashanti Autonomous Region Kingdom of Ashanti, and the Ashanti King title of Asantehene was revived. [23]

Because of the long history of mutual interaction between Ashanti and European powers, the Ashanti have the greatest amount of historiography in sub-Saharan Africa. In the 1920s the British catalogued Ashanti religion, familial, and legal systems in works like R.S. Rattray's Ashanti Law and Constitution. [24]

Culture and traditions

Ashanti culture celebrates Adae, Adae Kese, Akwasidae, Awukudae and Ashanti Yam festival. [25] The Seperewa, a 10-14 stringed harp-lute, as well as the Fontomfrom drums, are two of the typifying instruments associated with the Ashanti as well as the Ashanti Kente clothing. [26]


Ashanti are a matrilineal society where line of descent is traced through the female. [27] Historically, this mother progeny relationship determined land rights, inheritance of property, offices and titles. [27] It is also true that the Ashanti inherit from the paternal side of the family. [27] Property is defined as something inherited from the father, hence the name "agyapade", meaning inheritance from a good father. [27]

Ashanti soulwasher (Ashanti Sunsum Washer) Ashanti soulwasher by Claire H.jpg
Ashanti soulwasher (Ashanti Sunsum Washer)

The father's role was to help the conception and provide the ɔkra or the soul of the child; that is, the child received its life force, character, and personality traits from the father. [27] Though not considered as important as the mother, the male interaction continues in the place of birth after marriage. [27]

Historically, an Ashanti girl was betrothed with a golden ring called "petia" (I love you), if not in childhood, immediately after the puberty ceremony. [27] They did not regard marriage "awade" as an important ritual event, but as a state that follows soon and normally after the puberty ritual. [27] The puberty rite was and is important as it signifies passage from childhood to adulthood in that chastity is encouraged before marriage. [27] The Ashanti required that various goods be given by the boy's family to that of the girl, not as a 'bride price', but to signify an agreement between the two families. [27]

In the cataloguing of Ashanti familial and legal systems in R.S. Rattray's Ashanti Law and Constitution Ashanti law specifies that sexual relations between a man and certain women are forbidden, even though not related by blood. [24] The punishment for offense is death, although it does not carry quite the same stigma to an Ashanti clan as incest. [24] Sexual relations between a man and any one of the following women is forbidden: [24]

  1. A half-sister by one father, but by a different clan mother; [24]
  2. A father's brother's daughter; [24]
  3. A woman of the same father; [24]
  4. A brother's wife; [24]
  5. A son's wife; [24]
  6. A wife's mother; [24]
  7. An uncle's wife; [24]
  8. A wife of any man of the same "company"; [24]
  9. A wife of any man of the same guild or trade; [24]
  10. A wife of one's own slave; [24]
  11. A father's other wife from a different clan. [24] [24]


Ashanti greeting phrases; "akwaba" (welcome) and "ete sen" (how are you) in Ashanti language. Akan Greetings (Akwaba - Welcome; Ete sen - Hello).JPG
Ashanti greeting phrases; "akwaba" (welcome) and "ɛte sɛn" (how are you) in Ashanti language.

The Ashanti people speak Ashanti language with indistinguishable Ashanti Twi which is the official language of Ashanti Autonomous Region and main national language spoken in Ashanti and by the Ashanti people. [28] [29] [30] [31] Ashanti language is spoken by over 9 million ethnic Ashanti people as a first language and second language. [28] [29] The Ashanti language is the official language utilized for literacy in Ashanti, at the primary and elementary educational stage (Primary 1–3) K–12 (education) level, and studied at university as a bachelor's degree or master's degree program in Ashanti. [28] [29] [30] [31]

The Ashanti language and Ashanti Twi have some unique linguistic features like tone, vowel harmony and nasalization. [28] [29] [30] [31]


The Ashanti people are increasingly irreligious, though among those who follow a religion the most common is the Ashanti religion (a traditional religion which seems to be dying slowly but is revived only on major special occasions - yet is undergoing a global revival across the diaspora), followed by Christianity (Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism and Protestantism) and Islam.

Ashanti diaspora

The Ashanti live in Ashanti specifically in Ashanti capital Kumasi metropolis and due to the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade, a known diaspora of Ashanti exists in the Caribbean, particularly in Jamaica. Slaves captured by the Ashantis and sold to the British and the Dutch along the coasts were sent to the West Indies, particularly Jamaica, Barbados, Netherlands Antilles, British Virgin Islands. the Bahamas etc. Ashanti are known to be very opposed to both the Fante and the British people, as the Ashanti only traded with the Dutch in times of their ascension to becoming a hegemony of most of the area of present-day Ghana. The name Coromantee (from Fort Kormantse, purchased by the Dutch in 1665) came from the original British fort on the Gold Coast to host Ashanti captives, despite this fort being used by the Dutch and having no records of trade to Jamaica while being under Dutch ownership. [32] Evidence of Ashanti and Akan-day names and Ashanti and Akan-surnames (but mispronounced by the English), Adinkra symbols on houses, Anansi stories and the dialect of Jamaican Patois being heavily influenced by Ashanti language (Ashanti Twi), can all be found on the island of Jamaica. Edward Long and white British planters before him, described "Coromantees" the same way that the British in the Gold Coast would the "Ashantis", which was to be "Warlike". Edward Long states that others around "Ashantis" and "Coromantees" feared them the same way as they were feared in Jamaica and from the hinterlands of the Gold Coast. [33] According to BioMed Central (BMC biology) in 2012, the average Jamaican has 60% of Ashanti matrilineal DNA and today Ashanti is the only ethnic group by name known to contemporary Jamaicans. [34] Famous Jamaican individuals such as: Marcus Garvey and his 1st wife, Amy Ashwood Garvey are of Ashanti descent. It is commonplace for many Jamaicans to have this descent. [35] Also are Jamaican freedom fighters during slavery: Nanny of the Maroons (now a Jamaican National Heroine), Tacky and Jack Mansong or 3 finger Jack. The names: Nanny and Tacky are English corruptions of the Ashanti words and names: "Nanny" is a corruption of the Ashanti word Nana to mean "king/queen/grandparent", the name Tacky is a corruption of the Ashanti surname Takyi, and Mansong is a corruption of the Ashanti surname Manso, respectively. [36]

See also

Related Research Articles

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Osei Kofi Tutu I was one of the founders of the Ashanti Empire, aided by Okomfo Anokye, his chief priest. The Asante are a powerful, warlike, and highly disciplined people of West Africa. Osei Tutu led an alliance of Asante states against the regional hegemon, the Denkyira, completely defeating them. Then, through force of arms and diplomacy, he induced the rulers of the other Asante city-states to declare allegiance to Kumasi, his capital. Throughout his career he was politically advised by Anokye, a cleric whose spiritual authority over the people aided in his founding of the empire.

Osei Bonsu was the Asantehene. He reigned from 1804 to 1824. During his reign the Ashanti fought the Fante confederation and ended up dominating Gold Coast trade. In Akan, Bonsu means whale, and is symbolic of his achievement of extending the Ashanti Empire to the coast. He died in Kumasi, and was succeeded by Osei Yaw Akoto.

Otumfuo Nana Osei Tutu II King of the Ashanti

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Okomfo Anokye Ashanti priest and lawgiver

Okomfo Anokye was a traditional priest in the Asante Empire. He is known for his participation in the expansion of the Ashanti Empire.

The Akan people of Ghana frequently name their children after the day of the week they were born and the order in which they were born. These "day names" have further meanings concerning the soul and character of the person. Middle names have considerably more variety and can refer to their birth order, twin status, or an ancestor's middle name.


Kwahu refers to an area and group of people that live in Ghana, part of the Twi-speaking Akan group. The region has been dubbed Asaase Aban, or the Natural Fortress, in view of its position as the highest habitable elevation in the country. Kwahu lies in the Eastern Region of Ghana, on the west shore of Lake Volta. The region is shared with their fellow Akans: the Akyem and Akuapem, as well as the Adangbe-Krobos. A significant migrant population from the Northern and Volta Regions and some indigenous Guans from the bordering Oti and Brong East Regions live in the Afram Plains area. They work as farm-hands, fisherfolk, and caretakers in the fertile waterfront 'melting pot'.

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Golden Stool divine throne of the Ashanti people

The Golden Stool is the royal and divine throne of the Ashanti people and the ultimate symbol of power in Asante. According to legend, Okomfo Anokye, High Priest and one of the two chief founders of the Asante Confederacy, caused the stool to descend from the sky and land on the lap of the first Asante king, Osei Tutu. Such seats were traditionally symbolic of a chieftain's leadership, but the Golden Stool is believed to house the spirit of the Asante nation—living, dead and yet to be born.

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Twi Central Tano language

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Osei Tutu Agyeman Prempeh II King of Ashanti Kingdom, Ashanti leader

Prempeh II, was the 14th Asantehene, or king of the Ashanti, reigning from 22 June 1931 to 27 May 1970.

Nana Afia Kobi Serwaa Ampem II was the Queen mother (Ohemaa) of the Ashanti Kingdom and mother of the current Asantehene, Otumfuo Nana Osei Tutu II, who is the youngest son of her five children. She was the 13th Queen mother of the Ashanti Kingdom.


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